I give to you a piece on Kraul, a story of the man depicted below. The music that inspired this piece is called Mombassa from the movie Inception.
[Reader's tip: Turn up the music while you browse this piece, it adds to the fullness of the story]
The fog spilled dangerously down the hillside, swathing everything with a deathly glow of dragons breath and the devilish smell of demon blood. Kraul dragged his blade out of his victim and wiped it on the tainted grass.
“It is on,” he whispered under his breath, chasing away the fumes with a leathered hand, “bring it on you vile horde.”
A blinding flash of light split the air from the east, followed by the deafening roar of some fell-beast. The scent of death tinged the air and Kraul felt his blood boil inside his veins. He held his sword out, swishing it silently through the mists, beating back the foulness as he stepped forward with confidence. He flexed his left hand, unconsciously sliding the spike out of its holster on his middle finger. He braced himself, listening carefully for the crunch of leaves beneath the foot of an unwary foe.
Ah! He heard the snap of a twig from somewhere within the mists. His eyes shielded behind his hood, head bent low, arms ready, legs snaking forward step by step. There it was again, the sound. He redirected his footsteps to the right a bit more, slipping on a patch of blood. The mists swirled away, revealing the torso of a demon, wreathed in dragon’s breath, its yellow eyes still glinting despite its undeniably dead state. Kraul ignored it and crept forward again.
“Heh, Skithers, look here. A meekling. What a tasty little morsel.”
The voices of the demons betrayed their nearness. Just a little left and behind an especially thick fog-bank; Kraul crouched to his knees, blood staining the leather of his pants, and he waited.
“Aggh, this cruel blade!” cried an airy, sickly sounding voice, “It bites and stings, my cursed wings are bent Pithkaforl. I won’t fly again!”
“Morsels are tasty, Skithers; leave the wings you fool, fresh meat while we can and then back to battle. When will we get another chance like this.”
The sound of iron claws scraping stone resounded; Kraul slinked forward another step. He made out two brutish shapes in the darkness, their wings tucked behind their backs – hooked claws at the peaks pointed downwards venomously. Only a moment more, he thought, waiting for his chance to strike.
“Wot, Skithers gnaw off something of choice, not your own flank you daft fool.”
“Poisoned I swear it! Poisoned arrow tip, oh my leg burnsss!” Skithers clamped a blistered hand around his right flank, yanking at the flesh.
“Milkweed, you dumb animal. It’s only milkweed. The battlefield is full of its curse. Look, here.” Pithkaforl held up a human-figure with his left hand. Long hair draped down, nearly touching the wretched ground. Kraul noted the shape of a woman. He growled imperceptibly, flinching and ready to jump.
“You take the first bite, leave your fiery haunch for later you daft beast!”
Skithers sighted the prey and a trickle of drool pooled in the crevice of his mouth. He reached forward with a claw and,
The demon screamed, agony in every breath. He roared and lashed at his back, pulling out an arrow.
Kraul realized he was not alone. It was time to act. He slid left, slipping precariously on sinews and bones of the fallen. His gauntlet clinked with familiarity as he slid out the blades on his fingers.
Another arrow pierced Skithers; Pithkaforl would waste no time in retreating and leaving his companion to defend himself. Yet Kraul saw the twitch of his wings and he flung himself from a rock, landing with his blade pointed downwards on the demon’s back.
Pithkaforl screamed, shoving the maiden’s body to some unknown place in the mist. Kraul slid down the curved tail, sliding his sword out of the brute’s back and lashing his wings as he fell. His breastplate protected him from stakes on the ground, yet one managed to pierce his thigh; he felt the warm sting of pain. Leaving the stake in, he lunged as the demon turned to meet him with glowing yellow eyes.
“You!” it screamed in agony, “Traitor! I shall strew your innards across the Great Court and—“
He had no chance to finish his statement, however, for Kraul launched himself forward with all his strength, piercing Pithakforl’s heavy hide and slicing his heart from his chest. The demon staggered a moment with shock before quivering and toppling sideways, exhaling a last breath.
Traitor I may be, thought Kraul, steadying himself against the tail spikes of the fallen angel, but that is a title I shall bear with honour.
Stepping forward he ignored the pain in his thigh; his boot crunched something shiny – a golden locket. He left it on the ground as he crossed over Skithers’ slain body, now coated in arrows. He sent a silent word of thanks out to whatever unknown archer had taken him down.
His eyes wide, senses keen, Kraul crouched low and moved slowly through the mist.
First a hand, then a scarred arm, then the torso; he had found her…the maiden.
“Aggh!!” Kraul beat his fist to his chest, a display of deep affliction. He was too late, she had been lost. The empire would fall.
Signed with mischief,